RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies are handing out voluntary compliance pamphlets, letting residents know they need to wear a mask when out on essential errands and they have the authority to ticket or arrest anyone who violates the order but they haven’t needed to.
Sheriff Chad Bianco says residents are following the mandate and it’s definitely making a difference.
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It’s been two weeks since Riverside County lost two deputies in one day to COVID-19. The sheriff knew both David Werksman and Terrell Young.
“They were good men, they were dad’s, they were husbands,” said Sheriff Bianco. “Work came second. They were family people and really I’ll just remember them as a friend.”
It’s been about two and a half months since the first plane from Wuhan, China landed at March Air Reserve Base, set up as a quarantine, giving county leaders instant access to top health officials.
“We had CDC and some of those experts and we were able to learn directly from them and learn what they were concerned with and that really allowed us to start early planning,” said Riverside County Emergency Management Senior Public Information Specialist Shane Reichardt.
It’s a plan that led to Riverside County, with the fourth largest population in the state, being the first in California to mandate face coverings in public, which county leaders say has translated into far fewer cases.
“What I really want to say to Riverside County residents is thank you,” said the sheriff. “We don’t know when it’s going to be over with but if everybody is on board and does their part it’s certainly going to be quicker.”
And the sheriff is pleading for the community to stay on track, so they don’t have to bury anyone else, like his own men. “If you really want to honor their deaths, wear a mask and stay home.”
Cases in Riverside County are growing at much slower pace, now doubling in seven days rather than in four and a half, proving they are flattening the curve and not overwhelming the hospitals and EMS system.
The sheriff told FOX 11 it is impossible for him to be more proud of his department. He said after losing his two deputies, their colleagues from the same jail volunteered to work overtime in the same facility right away, knowing what they were getting themselves into, but also knowing the community needed them.